Monday, August 02, 2010

French Fry Diary 132: Champps Americana, Marlton NJ

There has been a Champps within throwing distance of my home for over a decade, but I had never been there until a couple weeks back with a couple friends, Ken and Marni, both old pros when it comes to accompanying me on French Fry Diary expeditions. We also received a gift card in the mail that day - probably the only reason we went. It was that or Red Lobster that night. I kinda wish we'd gone to the Dead Lobster now...

Champps Americana appears at first glance to be a downscale cross between a Friendly's and a sports bar, and at the time we visited, dinner on a weeknight, the crowd seemed rather sparse. But you'd never know it from the service.

Upon perusing the menu I saw, that while other plates passing by showed Chick-fil-A-like waffle fries, Champps in fact had a choice of either waffle fries or steak fries. After quizzing the waitress I was told that I could not get both, a half and half selection of the two different kinds of fries. Curious. It had to be one or the other. Were the fries cooked to order in specific side-sized portions or was the waitress just stubborn? You decide.

The waffle fries as I said resembled those at Chick-fil-A but maybe smaller and perhaps with a splash of seasoning - but I'll never know. I was extorted into choosing, or ordering two complete portions of fries. I, feeling almost at gunpoint, ordered the steak fries.

We also ordered onion rings as an appetizer. I figured, get as much done as possible, because at this point, I was probably not coming back. The rings were big battered slices with lots of thick onion, in different sizes and very hot, served with a honey mustard sauce. These were actually very good, and the large size of the onion was a nice change of pace you don't see in many places.

The stubborn waitress turned inattentive waitress as we waited for our main course. I had an empty glass for most of the meal. She eventually came through late late in the game. Maybe I had ticked her off by asking about the fries. She didn't seem to want to get me any refills on my Coke 'til the meal was almost over.

The steak fries were slightly slimmer than regular steak fries and also natural cuts. There were also only warm, so they definitely could not have been cooked to order. These fries were soggy, a little greasy and seasoned unevenly. Not spectacular, like the only adequate burger, which was also only warm. A big disappointment. What am I going to do with this gift card now? I'm so not going back...

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